There's no doubt about it: being a mom is serious business. Thank goodness it's 2017 and we have glorious technology to help us out in a pinch.
Sure, some clueless people like to complain about moms being glued to their smart phones, but what those people don't understand is our phones are directly linking us to magical apps that help us do everything from lock down a last-minute sitter to quickly locating a bathroom before one of our kids has an accident.
Here are the apps no mom should ever have to be without.
Originally published February 2016. Updated January 2017.
ContinuousCare is sort of a one-stop app for all things health care related. You can store scheduled appointments and medical records, ask health care specialists (real ones, not Google U graduates) medical questions and sync information from your device's health app to monitor any ongoing treatments for you and your family. Plus, if your doctor uses Virtual Practice, you can schedule video consults and follow-ups without ever leaving the house. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Happy Kids Timer is great for helping your littler kids establish a morning routine that doesn't require your direct supervision. They operate the app themselves as it walks them through everything from brushing teeth to making their bed. Plus it's got cute animations and appealing music to help keep them motivated and get everyone out of the house on time. (Free, iTunes, Google Play)
VarageSale lets you sell unwanted stuff as you come across it to your local community from your phone. That means you can list the clothing, toys and baby gear your kid outgrows as you come across it instead of wasting a weekend on a home purge and garage sale. Bonus: The app's creator is a mom herself, and the community is hugely mom-friendly and safe, so no more shady Craigslist blind meets. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Playground Buddy is another locator app, this time for playgrounds and parks all over the world, so when you're out on errands or in an unfamiliar place for any reason, your kids can burn off some energy at a nearby playscape. Users can also update playground information or add new spots to the map if they spot an unlisted playground. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Trekaroo is similar to Playground Buddy, only instead of searching for playgrounds, you can search for kid-friendly things to do, like zoos and museums as well as kid-friendly restaurants and hotels. You can also access ratings and reviews through the app ahead of time or on the fly. (Free, iTunes)
Even with all this technology, snail mail still has a very important place in family life, from thank-you notes to Christmas cards. Ink Cards lets you customize and send cards for any occasion all in one go right from your phone so you don't spend hours addressing envelopes or accidentally get a paper cut on your tongue. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Kids Eat Free is pretty much exactly what it says it is. When you're out and about and you need to feed the little ones, you can easily bring up a list of nearby eateries that offer free meals off of the kids' menu. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
If there are more errands in the day than hours, TaskRabbit allows you to list a task for someone else to complete. Everything from grocery shopping to food delivery is on the table, plus home-based tasks like yard work and cleaning. The prices are pretty reasonable, and the "taskers" are vetted by the company. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Path is social networking micro-sized. You can shrink your network all the way down to your family and share moments, memories and messages with a much higher degree of privacy so that even the littlest members of your family get in on the fun. Plus, it's refreshing to use your phones for something besides family scheduling, meetings and grocery texts. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Offload the housework onto the people who should be pitching in anyway with Chorma, an app that lets every family member claim chores and earn points for them, competition style. You can set custom incentives and end any squabble about who does more around the house. (Free, iTunes)
ChoreMonster, on the other hand, is for younger kids. The incentivization system is still there, but the goal of this app is to get your kids into the habit of completing their chores on a daily or weekly basis, with personalized, age-appropriate tasks. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Instacart basically removes grocery shopping from your plate, which frees up hours every week for things that aren't about waiting in line behind the only person on Earth who still writes checks. You can make a list, schedule a delivery time and even shop different stores to get what you need, plus you can easily access past lists. It's available only in select cities right now, but it could expand soon. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Out of Milk is a grocery list on steroids. You can keep a pantry inventory, save recipes and add ingredients directly to your shopping list manually or with a bar code scan, get deal alerts on shopping list items and alerts when you're running low on something. Plus the app remembers past shopping lists and is easily shared among family members. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Keepy helps you stem the ever-growing tide of child masterpieces by allowing you to take snaps of your kids' artwork, upload them all to one place and share them with family members who can comment or leave voice notes on them from wherever they are. Multiple timeline streams let you keep everyone's work separate. In-app purchases and access to the Keepy store allow users to order prints, mugs and canvases of extra-special masterpieces. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
MomsPumpHere is a must for breastfeeding moms or moms who need to pump regularly. It automatically locates nursing rooms or nursing-friendly spaces and lets a community of users describe and rate those spaces, so you can pump or nurse in comfort. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
If you prefer one app over many, Cozi Family Organizer might be the way to go. You can share to-do lists, schedules, appointments and grocery lists and keep a family journal all in one place. That way everyone knows who is where when and what needs to be accomplished, which at least streamlines the chaos a little. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
MamaBear is an authoritative parent's dream. Besides having standard safety stuff like family location alerts and automatic check-ins, parents can also choose to monitor things like their child's driving speed and restricted word alerts for social media and have total online surveillance. Kids can use the app to let parents know when they get somewhere safely, and it has a handy "panic button" feature if they're in trouble and need help. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
CareZone makes it easy to manage things like prescriptions and dosage instructions for your entire family for maintenance meds and short-term treatments, plus it sends reminders and lets you journal the experience. That's particularly useful for kids who are trying out new prescriptions and need to monitor their reactions to them or for anyone on antibiotics. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
TripCase lets you consolidate the mountain of information that is a travel itinerary into one place so you can view your air travel, hotel bookings, attraction ticketing and rental car information all at once. You can also forward confirmation information straight to a dedicated email account, and the app will automatically update with the new information. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Brili is one of the most expensive apps on the list, but that's because it isn't your standard routines app for kids. It offers dynamic scheduling, so it learns when a child completes a task and adjusts itself accordingly, which is particularly useful for children who have ASD or ADHD. Parents can monitor remotely, and up to three children are supported at a time. (iTunes, $15/Google Play, $7)
UrbanSitter lets you find a sitter or a nanny on the fly and shows you how other families rate their experience with that sitter. You can message, call and book straight from the app, and at the end of the night you can easily pay with the credit card and avoid that whole awkward exchange-of-money song and dance. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Arguably one of the most useful apps on this list, SitOrSquat is made by Charmin and finds places to tinkle by GPS, so when someone has to go, you can get from point A to point P as quickly as possible. A godsend for the potty-training stage. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
Mint is a pretty consistent favorite because it makes monitoring accounts, expenditures and bills extremely simple with an attractive interface, and it allows you to budget and adjust spending and saving as your finances require it. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
With Mint Bills you can track and pay bills on an automatic schedule or get an alert when something is coming due. (Free, iTunes/Google Play)
It's not out yet, but if someone in your family has a food allergy or sensitivity, Gumshoe's premise is that it will aggregate information about food brands so that information you would otherwise only glean from squinting at labels or calling manufacturing facilities would be easily available in one place.
Best of the best
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